Christmas all around the world

Christmas is celebrated all around the world, with the Christian “feast of love” even widely accepted in countries where Christians are in a minority. Keep reading to find out how festive traditions have evolved in different continents and what tasty treats are served up around the world at Christmas time.

illustration christmas meal


In Switzerland, the run-up to Christmas wouldn’t be complete without freshly baked festive biscuits. And it doesn’t get more traditional than a batch of classic Mailänderli. The name may translate to “Milanese” but there is actually very little to suggest that these tasty treats do in fact come from northern Italy. The first-ever recipe for Mailänderli appeared towards the end of the 18th century in a recipe book from Basel, where it was customary to offer guests Mailänderli with spiced wine to celebrate the new year. Named by recipe site Betty Bossi as “the most popular biscuits to bake in Switzerland”, Mailänderli are made with butter, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, flour, salt and a splash of milk. Once children have cut out their biscuit shapes, they often end up eating the leftover dough without baking it. It’s best not to eat too much raw biscuit dough, though. Sensitive stomachs may start to protest otherwise – and, yes, we are speaking from our own painful experience!

Eastern Europe

In Slovakia and parts of Ukraine, it is traditional to throw pudding at the ceiling at Christmas. The more of the dessert that sticks to the ceiling, the luckier the person that threw it will be in the new year ahead. We don’t have any reliable statistics that would allow us to comment on whether or not it works. But we are pretty confident that the poor person who has to climb up a ladder to scrape pudding off the ceiling once the celebrations are over is not doing so well on the luck front.

Bobal’ky may be sweet bread balls, but they are eaten – served with poppy seeds and melted butter – and not thrown. To make your very own Bobal’ky, follow the recipe here: Top tip: We recommend just sticking to the amounts specified – even if they seem a bit on the small side. Trust us when we say that Bobal’ky are very filling.


Shopping is a must in the run-up to Christmas in Nigeria too, but shopping lists don’t just stop at gifts for loved ones. Clothing and fabrics are a priority because everyone wants to be the best dressed on Christmas Day. Bonus points for statement colours and elaborate detailing. And it’s not just the ladies who go all out on their outfits! Some families design and make their own matching clothing, taking care of the cutting, sewing, pattern design and fabric printing.

According to the Nigerian newspaper Vanguard, Christmas rice has become a culinary tradition in the country in recent years. Yes, you read that right! At Christmas time, guests expect to be served rice and friends can be heard telling each other that they’ll be heading over for their Christmas rice. Fried rice or jollof rice can be garnished with chicken or goat meat and served alongside appetisers or desserts. Here’s a Nigerian recipe for jollof rice, a delicious dish served across West Africa with different twists depending on the region. Just in case you didn’t know – plantains are cooking bananas and a major food staple in West Africa.


A popular Christmas tradition took hold fairly recently in Japan too: “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” US fast-food chain KFC introduced the slogan “Kentucky for Christmas!” in 1974 and Japanese families have been flocking to get their fried chicken fix at Christmas ever since. The XXL party bucket with a festive theme contains eight fried chicken drumsticks, lasagne and chocolate cake. Now, we’re not exactly talking about haute cuisine here, but it does taste good – especially if you try to recreate it from scratch at home. On that note, here are some recipes for fried chicken (American or Korean style), lasagne (like every Italian nonna would make) – and chocolate cake (learn from the best). We all know that calories don’t count at Christmas, so we’re not even going to talk about them here.


In Venezuela, Christmas kicks off nice and early on 16 December with the first of nine (!) special mass services. At some point, someone in Caracas decided it would be more fun to roller skate to church than just walk. Expert historians and ethnologists may not be able to agree on where exactly this idea came from, but there is no question that this tradition is a popular one. The government even closes the roads in the capital city to make sure that churchgoers can skate to their mass services safely.

After the final and most important Christmas mass service on Christmas Eve, families head home and sit down to enjoy their main Christmas meal. The star of the show is Hallacas, a traditional dish of corn dough stuffed with a mixture of meat, nuts, olives, peppers, onions and other ingredients and cooked in banana leaves. Mouth watering? Find out more about Hallacas and check out a recipe right here. It may be traditional to fold this dish up in banana leaves to cook it, but you can always use baking parchment instead. Don’t be put off by the complicated recipe – you’ll forget all about it when you take that first beautiful bite. Good luck and enjoy!

PS: Do you have a favourite festive recipe or a Christmas tradition from another country that you’d like to share with us? Send us an email to

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